As in previous years, VITO strengthens the ranks of the top 10 Belgian organisations and companies that have applied for a patent at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2020. A strategic selection of the geographic regions in which patent protection is sought, should enable an efficient cost control is sought in function of valorisation planning.

In 2018, 32 applications were filed by VITO, which grew to 40 in 2019, and evolved towards 30 in 2020. Solvay still leads the list with 214 applications in 2020 and imec stays second in rank. With 30 applications, VITO is again following closely behind its colleagues from VIB. 

All in all, the Belgian organisations and companies accounted for a total of 2,400 patent applications filed at the EPO in 2020. This is a slight decrease compared to the number of applications filed in 2019 (2,422). This is in line with the generally observed decrease in the total number of patent applications filed at the European Patent Office (- 0.7%). The global pandemic that has been going on since the beginning of 2020 has everything to do with this. 

65.9% of all Belgian applications originate from applicants located in Flanders (1,580), followed by the Walloon Region (19.9 %) and the capital Region of Brussels (14.2 %). Flanders was number eleven in the top twenty European regions for patent applications. 

According to EPO president António Campinos, it is innovation, research and science that will lead to a healthier world and a more solid and sustainable economy. Indeed, innovation supported by a strong IP system is the engine of recovery, in every sense of the word.

Medical technology was the big leader in terms of volume, while pharmaceuticals and biotechnology were the strongest growers.

Belgium is in 8th place in the ranking of number of applications per million inhabitants, with 205 applications per million inhabitants. Switzerland still leads this ranking with 966 applications per million inhabitants. The eight countries at the top of this list are all Western European countries. Israel comes in at number 9 (194), followed by Ireland (188), Korea (177) and Japan (175).